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Tina
Tina, Lawyer
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 8775
Experience:  JD, BBA Over 25 years legal and business experience.
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Can a ghostwriter (me) claim the copyright for original

Customer Question

Can a ghostwriter (me) claim the copyright for original written material for which the client refuses to pay?
His outstanding debt is $238; I offered to settle with him for $150; now he has made only negative comments and has refused to pay, via email, which are 180 degrees different from his ongoing remarks during the project. His participation in the writing has been vague, at best. The characters, plot line, locations, and historical setting are my original material.
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Ely replied 9 months ago.

Hello and welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms.

I am sorry to hear about this situation. Please tell me - do you have a contract with this client? If so, does it say anything about when copyright "switches" to them, or, if it is held by you for payment, etc? Or not - and simply that it will be "their" material?

This is not an answer, but an information request. I need this information to answer your question. Please reply, so I can answer your question. Thank you in advance.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
We executed a very general ghostwriting contract for the first $100 through Outsource. Once that was funded, we had only a verbal contract with an agreed total price of $550. As the ghostwriter, it was my belief the material was his, but he had to fulfill his financial obligation. He paid the first $100; another payment of $212; but had a balance to pay of $238. I offered to settle with him for a final payment of $150; then the excuses began from him!
Expert:  Ely replied 9 months ago.

Is there any way you can attach the contract to your reply? Do you have a copy of it?

Also, is the project FINISHED and all material sent to him? Or it is still ongoing, but halted due to his non-payment?

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
do not call me!!!!!! This is unacceptable.
Expert:  Ely replied 9 months ago.

I do not want to call you. The site offers a call, but this is not me doing so, but the site asking if you want that option. I also do not participate in calls so had you chosen a call, someone else would call you.

Anyhow, if you wish to continue: Is there any way you can attach the contract to your reply? Do you have a copy of it?

Also, is the project FINISHED and all material sent to him? Or it is still ongoing, but halted due to his non-payment?